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Fire crews keep Ponina Fire near Beatty from growing

Photo courtesy Christopher Trotchie

Fire officials said that crews were able to keep the Ponina Fire from growing throughout Monday and overnight, raising containment.

Posted: Apr 20, 2021 10:43 AM
Updated: Apr 20, 2021 10:44 AM

BEATTY, Ore. — Firefighters have been making "excellent progress" on the Ponina Fire, located about five miles north of Beatty in Klamath County, according to the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP).

More accurate mapping of the fire area raised its estimated size to 1,641 acres, but officials said that firefighters were able to keep it from actually growing in size. Containment of the fire rose to 40 percent.


Photo courtesy Christopher Trotchie

With containment now well underway, fire crews are working on mop-up within the fire's edge.

"The fire is burning in timber and brush with creeping and smoldering fire behavior," officials said. "There are some interior heavy fuels burning as well as formerly green islands."

Evacuation levels were lowered by the Klamath County Sheriff's Office on Monday to a Level 2, allowing residents to return home with the caveat that they should be prepared to evacuate if conditions change.

Tuesday's update included the news that seven structures have been destroyed by the fire — up from two the day prior — but officials said that they were "mostly outbuildings."

The area saw some rain overnight and into Tuesday morning, and officials said that they expect temperatures to be cooler with another chance of showers. However, dry winds from the northeast are expected to return on Tuesday afternoon, with temperatures warming again over the coming days.

The fire was first reported around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. After an initial response from firefighters, a local Type 3 Incident Management Team took over control of efforts on Monday morning.

Smoke may still be highly visible in the surrounding areas, including on Highway 140. The Ponina Fire burns in an area with narrow roads, and the public has been advised to avoid the fire area for their own safety and that of responding fire crews.

"Even with cooler weather and some precipitation, fuels remain dormant and dry, meaning fire can carry quickly," SCOFMP said. "As cold fronts approach, winds can be fast and erratic, leading to spotting and rapid fire spread even from a small fire like a campfire. The public is urged to use extreme caution with fire on private and wildlands, especially as the area is already seeing early wildfires."

Klamath County suspended open burning last week, and that suspension is expected to continue amid the current dry conditions.

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